Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Flight of fancy

Iraqis deserve better than a minister's son who uses his influence to have a commercial flight returned.

We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling of arriving at the bus stop or Metro station just as the door slams shut and the vehicle moves away. Missing a flight is even worse. Still, there’s not much you can do about it except resign yourself to being late and wait for the next one to come along. That is, unless you’re the son of the Iraqi transport minister, Hadi Al Amiri.

Last Thursday, Mahdi Al Amiri was reportedly a no-show at the gate at Beirut airport and, after staff delayed the plane and mounted a search, it took off without him. Rather than book the next available flight and retire to the business lounge, he called Baghdad airport and told officials to refuse permission for the scheduled Middle East Airlines flight to land. And so, the aircraft turned back to Lebanon. The curious official Iraqi explanation is that this was due to “airport cleaning”, not nepotism.

It is unclear what Mr Al Amiri gained from this exercise, except a chance to demonstrate to Iraqis the truth of their belief that relatives of government officials think they are above the law. With all its problems as they rebuild after decades of war and dictatorship, Iraqis shouldn’t have to tolerate temper tantrums from people in (or near) high places.

Updated: March 8, 2014 04:00 AM